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learning to use a low C extension

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by Debs, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. Debs


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bedfordshire, UK

    Please could you give me a couple of ideas on how to develope my technique with a low C extension. I don't have a problem in finding my notes it is more with the posture and the amount of preasure that I am using. I have mainly been using 2 8ve scales to try and familiarise myself with it but if you know of any studies that would also be great!!! :help:

    Best wishes
  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Hi Debs!
    Happy Holidays and New Year!
    I had a C extension on my big (44 inch string length) orchestra bass, years ago, but it was a machine with keys. I got the keyed kind because the idea of lifting my arm way over my head (I was a sitting player then) to press down on a tiny rail wide enough for one string, and do it quickly, and often.. semmed overburdensome. So a keyed machine seemed faster and though I was called "Captain Clunk" by my section mates, due to the noise of the mechanics, it was fast, and mostly I was relaxed. So, beware putting your arm high above your head and pressing (or squeezing between the finrger(s) and the thumb under the rail) for long lengths of time. It MAY (every person is different) lead to over-use syndrome or bursitis. Arpeggios and scales are certainly one way to go... find wonderful excerpts from Beethoven, Mahler, Strauss (of course), and even Bach that you can make into sequenced exercises. Also, I would practice the left hand and right's movements seperately, then put them together. It is amazing home "dependent" our hands are on each other. By separating the movements, they can become more independent and work together smoothly.
    Good luck!;)
  3. kontrabass


    Sep 29, 2004
    Mr. Neher,
    Could you explain that a bit more? What sort of problem would this rectify? It is a very interesting thought.

    Have a wonderful new year!

    All the best,
  4. Debs


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bedfordshire, UK

    Thank you for these ideas, I will be putting them into practice over the next couple of days!

    Hope you have a great New Year

    All the best

    Debs :)
  5. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Well, Generally our hands' and arms' movements tend to be "dependent" on each other: like when the left hand shifts, we tend to slow the bow down or otherwise accomodate the shift in our right. And there are other movements that we try to make independent so that they can work together smoothly (in the example one must sep. the rhythms of the hands: If the LH is playing quarters but all four are slurred then the RH is playing a whole note.. no matter if there are string crossings. These are the two rhythms of the hands. One practices the whole note first then the LH quarters to get smoothness and clarity when the two actions are combined). So, same holds true for working the extension. The large arm motions from, say thumb position to the extension, should be looked at as a sep. motion from the motion that the bow must travel. Is the rhythm of the arm motion consistant with the rhythm of the notes, and then of the bow motion? Wow! So, by examining all motions, seperately, one can learn them, concentratedly individually, then have them work together. I don't feel I have explained myself very well, but hopefully you get the idea that, for me, creating new techniques or solidifying those I already know, involves taking the motions and rhythms apart, down to the smallest denominator, and seeing how they effect each other and work together.
    Happy New Year!
  6. Snakewood

    Snakewood Guest

    Dec 19, 2005
    44 inch?!? How do you play that? Most professional orchestral bassists I know with large hands stick to 42.5 and below even if it's an old English or Italian bass.
  7. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Yes, it was 44 inches. An "old-ish" bass made by the father of Kai Arvi. It was big on the bottom... the curve was almost flat on the bottom, and very nicely sloping shoulders, It also had a nice "cutaway" on the back (which was violin-type, rounded) so you could get close to it and extend your arm up into thumb position quite nicely (doing the Pulcinella solo, and Sperger Sonatas were no problem). But in half position, playing low F to G (like Tchiak 5, over and over again) required a pivot. I could not (now, will not) stretch it to reach it. So since most orch. playing is in the lower positions (pitch-wise), I found myself getting tired and it developed tendonitis. After selling the bass, I swallowed my ego and played on a smaller bass. The Arvi had six pieces to the top... I guess he could not find a tree large enough for only two pieces. Wow! It had a horrible finish, but a great sound. I bought it in 1980 from Paul Biase (sp?) in NYC. Geoff Hamilton in Tucson owns it still I think but he had it for sale a year ago.
    Anyway, the string length of a bass is not usually an issue as much as the shape. I played a Scottish bass once that only had 41 but the thickness and shoulders were such that I could not play higher than E on the G string!!!!
    Best to you!

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